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some self-study plans

I’ve started a blog/newsletter thing, no frills and low standards, just trying to get myself to think more, specifically about the pandemic and from a marxist perspective - https://buttondown.email/nateholdren Current tentative plan is that this little blog is for thinking out loud generally and that one's for covid-focused stuff, I guess - I aspire to bring marxist theoretical concepts to bear on thinking about the pandemic so it's still gonna be marx theory nerd stuff over there as with here, but I guess the idea with the new thing is to push myself to make covid connections, a little more focused purpose, while this thing's for literally whatever. So I thought I’d map out a bit of what I’ve tried to articulate to some degree so far and what I want to try to flesh put further. (I'll add that this is all intended as being in dialog with friends and comrades working on the same stuff, I'll vary in keeping with the flow of conversation as appropriate!) I’ve got an account of capitalism as having a tendency to social murder, that’s the main thing that’s fleshed out really.


Here’s a list of stuff I’ve got a partial account of, in various degrees from fragmentary stub of a start to a more fleshed out but still partial account: the role of the state in capitalism and in relation to the tendency to social murder, the split between political and economic in capitalism, depoliticization as statecraft and how that relates to the political/economic split (I read a lot of stuff on depoliticization and never wrote up notes on it), some fragments on ideology and on agnotology, relationship between capitalism and disability, my moral economy and ideology stuff that Abby and Chris say is related to all this, a point I want to take seriously and a connection I’ve not currently seen myself.


List of stuff I don’t have an account of: capitalism as crisis-prone, relationship between state and crisis and capitalist development, relationship between state and struggle and crisis (bits of this in the social murder and moral economy chapter I guess), sense of the relationship between capitalism and biopolitics and discardable people and surplus population (should really read further in the history of eugenics), role of liberal capitalist utopians in capitalism generally and the role of liberal state subjecthood/citizenship (I remember there being good stuff on this in the State Debate book).


Related stuff to read - the rest of Tony Smith’s books, any of the remaining Open Marxism stuff I’ve not read. Probably a good idea to write myself little review essays on those literatures. I don't feel compelled to canvas marxism exhaustively and tie it all to the pandemic, I just want sufficient concepts to account for what I'm seeing and experiencing. I currently think Smith, Open Marxism, and a few other things I've mentioned are a sufficient theoretical toolbox for that purpose, if that view changes then I'll expand the reading list.


That’s all stuff at the level of abstract theoretical accounts. In addition there’s a fair bit of things worth reading about historically to grasp the pandemic better - history of public health as a body of knowledge, history of public health institutions, histories of prior crises analogous to this one. I think doing the theoretical clarification then doing more wide ranging reading in historical work, as well as more recent history and the present, accounts of the pandemic and all, would be enriched by the theoretical stuff, and the immediate present enriched by longer term historical inquiries. Neoliberalism is probably relevant as well as the specific in-house debates between technocratic pseudo-progressive neoliberalism and reactionary neoliberalism and how those debates spilled over into the red state/blue state type of worldview, which seems to have helped the pandemic go even worse.

This is all certainly enough to keep me busy for a while. The above sounds linear and it certainly wouldn't hurt to proceed in the order presented here but I'm also totally fine with bouncing around among these themes, that could keep my energy up and might be intellectually generative too - the different kinds and topics of inquiry posing questions for each other.

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